littoral adj : of or relating to a coastal or shore region n : the region of the shore of a lake or sea or ocean [syn: litoral, littoral zone, sands]
- "...these Chams belonged to the Malay-Polynesian group and their distribution along the littoral suggests that they were invaders from the sea..." —Sir Charles Eliot (1921)
Littoral refers to the coast of an ocean or sea, or to the banks of a river, lake or estuary. It is usually used as an adjective, but may also be used as a noun. The littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It includes the intertidal and sublittoral zones. The word 'littoral' is derived from the Latin noun litus, litoris, meaning "shore". (The doubled 't' is a late mediaeval innovation and the word is sometimes seen in the more classical-looking spelling 'litoral'.)
In lakes, where tides are usually negligibly small, other definitions of "littoral" must be used. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources defines littoral as that portion of the lake that is less than 15 feet in depth. This zone is home to most of the aquatic plantlife (both rooted and floating) in a pond or lake because the high amount of sunlight reaching it allows for significant photosynthetic activity.
The adjacency of water gives a number of distinctive characteristics to littoral regions. Water's erosive power results in particular types of landforms, such as sand dunes, and estuaries. The natural movement of the littoral along the coast is called the littoral drift. Biologically, the ready availability of water enables a greater variety of plant and animal life, and the additional local humidity due to evaporation usually creates a microclimate supporting unique types of organisms.
The littoral zone is bordered by the supralittoral zone, also known as the "spray zone", and the sublittoral zone, which runs to the edge of the continental shelf.
littoral in German: Litoral
littoral in Estonian: Litoraal
littoral in French: Littoral
littoral in Ido: Litoro
littoral in Japanese: リトラル
littoral in Polish: Litoral
littoral in Portuguese: Litoral
littoral in Russian: Литораль
littoral in Slovenian: Litoral
littoral in Swedish: Litoral
aquatic, balneal, bank, beach, benthic zone, berm, bordering, borderline, boundary, bounding, coast, coastal, coastland, coastline, deep-sea, determinant, determinative, determining, embankment, estuarine, estuarine area, extreme, foreshore, fringing, frontier, grallatorial, intertidal zone, ironbound coast, lido, limbic, liminal, limit, limiting, marginal, natant, natatorial, natatory, pelagic zone, plage, playa, rimming, riparial, riparian, riparious, riverside, riviera, rockbound coast, sands, sea margin, seabank, seabeach, seaboard, seacliff, seacoast, seashore, seaside, shingle, shore, shoreline, shoreside, shoreward, skirting, splash zone, strand, sublittoral, submerged coast, supralittoral, swimming, terminal, threshold, tidal, tidewater, water-dwelling, water-growing, water-living, water-loving, waterfront, waterside